For two weekends this year, March 18th-20th and November 4th-16th, mystery buffs will gather in Cape May, New Jersey to celebrate one of the most famous–and trendiest– fictional detectives: Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes Weekend is an interactive experience for ticket holders to gather clues, piece together the evidence, make deductions, and participate in other “Holmesian” games and activities. For those of us not making the trek to Jersey, we can still have some fun getting better acquainted with the famous resident of 221B Baker Street.
Honestly, I don’t know much about Holmes, aside from the more well-known facts. I know where he lives: the aforementioned Baker Street, in London, of course. I know that he is gobsmackingly brilliant, with a knack for observation and deduction. Lastly, I know that he solves crimes with the help of his flatmate, Dr. John Watson, who is far more straightlaced than the eccentric Sherlock.
The character was created by physician-turned-writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes was in 1887. Eventually, Doyle wrote him into over fifty short stories and four novels, including The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles, both of which are available here at the Levittown Public Library, as are other Sherlock stories and non-Sherlock works by Doyle.
At 129-years-old, Holmes has proved to be an enduring character. He has spawned numerous adaptations that continue to this day, from silent films to black-and-white films, from plays and musicals to twentieth-century Hollywood blockbusters and smash television series. There are even Sherlock Holmes video games! Sherlock has such lasting power that in 2012, Guinness World Records named Sherlock Holmes the “most portrayed literary human character in film & TV.”
British actor Basil Rathbone starred in fourteen films produced from 1939-1946 and is perhaps the first actor to become associated with the titular detective. It might come as a shock to fans of the recent Guy Ritchie-directed films or the current BBC adaptation, but yes, actors other than Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch have become famous for portraying the great Sherlock. It was less than a year ago that Sir Ian McKellan starred in Mr. Holmes, playing Sherlock at the end of his life, struggling to solve a case that had haunted him for decades. There’s also the popular CBS series Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Sherlock and Watson, though this derivation takes place in another great metropolis: New York City.
I am trying to understand the Sherlock mania; I even started watching season one of Sherlock during a recent snowstorm and I can definitely see the appeal; the acting is fantastic (That Benedict Cumberbatch is more than just an unusual name!) and the storylines have a good mix of humor and mystery, from what I’ve seen. If you’re one of the many die-hard fans of BBC’s Sherlock, you might want to test your knowledge against this list of “22 Sherlock Facts” via The Telegraph. Although I hope to finish the entire series, I think that when it comes to Sherlock adaptations, my heart will always belong to The Great Mouse Detective. A coworker and I were just discussing how much we both love this Disney movie. It’s from 1986 and the “Sherlock” in this story is Basil of Baker Street (a nod to Basil Rathbone?), a brilliant mouse who sets out to defeat the villainous Professor Ratigan. There’s mystery, suspense, a Mouse Queen, and even a few songs! You have to wait until January 2017 for season four of Sherlock anyway, so why not watch The Great Mouse Detective in the meantime?
Whether you prefer your Sherlock in black-and-white or as played by Benedict Cumberbatch in modern-day London, the LPL has everything you need. Sherlock and Watson, in print and on screen, are only a visit away. It’s elementary, dear readers.